Tottenham face Inter Milan on Tuesday night, bringing back memories of their double-header with the Italian giants in 2010 which saw Gareth Bale announce himself as a star of European football.
The winger hit a stunning hat-trick against Inter in Italy before turning in another brilliant performance in the return fixture to give Spurs a 3-1 win at White Hart Lane.
Here, Football Paradise takes a closer look at that memorable night for the club.
Wesley Sneijder and Luka Modric lined up against each other in midfield (Sean Dempsey/PA)Inter went into the game with far more European pedigree and, as reigning continental champions, experience. Rafael Benitez fielded names such as Samuel Eto’o, Wesley Sneijder, Walter Samuel, Maicon, Lucio, Javier Zanetti and a young Philippe Coutinho, while Spurs on the other hand were in their first season back in Europe’s premier competition since 1961-62. Despite their inexperience as a club, they featured players such as Luka Modric and Rafael van der Vaart, while William Gallas and Peter Crouch had also previously played in Europe.
Despite all the decorated players on the pitch, there is no doubt that the night belonged to Bale. The Welsh winger had terrorised Maicon in the first fixture between the two clubs – hitting a stunning hat-trick in Milan despite a 4-3 defeat – and he picked up where he left off with another man-of-the-match performance. His trademark speed and power was there for all to see down the left flank as time and again he left Maicon – at the time rated as one of the best right-backs in the world – trailing in his wake, laying on goals for Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko as well as numerous other chances in a sublime individual performance that raised Bale’s profile around Europe.
On the touchline
Although the two sides had never met before the game at the San Siro two weeks previously, it was a familiar meeting on the touchline for the two managers. Harry Redknapp and Benitez went head-to-head several times during the Spaniard’s time in England, and he was still recognised as one of the leading coaches across Europe at the time of the meeting. Despite that, he came in for criticism after his side were taken apart at White Hart Lane and was sacked less than two months later, while Redknapp went on to enjoy one of the best spells of his long career in guiding Spurs to the quarter-finals.
What they said
Unsurprisingly, Bale was the focus of attention after the game for his two assists and countless breaks. Such was his performance, Redknapp said: “He’s got everything. He’s got great ability. It’s not just his pace, he can run all day, and keep running. He’s got the ability to cross, his left foot is great on the run, he can shoot, dribble, head it, he’s got everything” and added that Luis Figo (director at Inter) had said “’Bale is just amazing, amazing’”. When asked if Inter would consider a bid for the winger, Benitez replied: “If he plays like today, why not?”
What happened next?
It promised to be the start of something special for Tottenham, but after getting past AC Milan in the first knockout round, they were well beaten by Real Madrid – losing 4-0 at the Bernabeu and 1-0 in the return fixture. It was another six seasons until they were in the Champions League again, while Redknapp was sacked at the end of the following campaign despite a fourth-placed finish as his squad began to move on. After a five-year spell as Serie A champions, it was the beginning of a downfall for Inter, who were forced to sacked Benitez shortly after he guided them to the Club World Cup.